Metaphyiscal Mondays With... Willow

In this Metaphysical Monday interview, I talk with Willow about growing up witchy and the way that it influenced who they are as a magic practitioner, spiritworker and tarot reader today. I’ve known Willow for years, on and off, and it was lovely to reconnect and get to know who they are today in this interview!


Greetings Willow, thanks for agreeing to talk with me today! Always lovely to have you at my digital fireside. To start things off, would you be able to introduce yourself to my readers?


Hey there, Lee! It’s an honor to be here really, thank you for the offer to talk! I can’t think of a better way to spend my afternoon, and I’m glad we could find time to do this. I’ll be more than happy to.


My name is Willow Blair, I’ve been sort of surrounded by the metaphysical since I was little, and it’s been an interesting if not insightful journey to see where that takes me. Usually I just tell people the main things they should know about me are I’m bisexual, I’m genderfluid, and I identify as a witch for the most part. I’ve been reading tarot since I was little and I answer the door to pretty much anyone who knocks as long as they’re willing to deal with me potentially tired and feral.


I ask this a lot when I’m doing interviews, but as someone who came into the metaphysical in my very late teens, I’m always interested in the experiences of people who got to be there when young. Would you be willing to talk a little bit more about that?


My mother really was my initiation into this, in little things she did. It’s definitely interesting to look back on, to have memories of my mother mostly filling the house with incense and stones. She was a child of the late-ish 60s so of course Stevie Nicks and Tori Amos and all sort of witchy female presences were draped around the house and I didn’t think much of dancing around outside at night, of talking about or even to gods with the same sort of reverence that you heard at church. It wasn’t all Practical Magic and Midnight Margaritas, but it was something I knew was natural and familiar.


Wouldn’t we all love it to be more Midnight Margaritas…


Honestly!


Although since I’m getting off the subject already, let’s keep swinging this back to you!


Must we? I could talk about you (or literally anything else but me) all day for sure!


I could too, but focus! 😂 We have to focus, Willow!


Alright, alright. If we must! 😜


At home, witchcraft was something you did to celebrate yourself, something that empowered and protected you. It wasn’t called witchcraft, it was called practicing, if I were pressed to call what I did in my childhood anything at all. Of course being born in 1993 the only sort of texts or sources I had were very Wicca-centered. Yes, I had Silver Ravenwolf’s Teen Witch Kit, no I didn’t realize how godsawful she was as an author until I got older. Scott Cunningham was a prominent author featured in my mom’s library too, and he’s still a decent reference if not woefully outdated. (Can’t be helped, most Wiccan texts I’ve found are a bit behind).


As a kid, trees and wind had a voice, God was someone you could talk to no matter where you were or how you felt. If you were sad or upset, you drank tea or made a spell, when things got really dark or scary you saged the hell out of the place and put bowls of salt by the window for protection. It was just sort of something always around me, patiently waiting for my eyes to grow sharper.


It sounds like you were very much set on this path you’re on now, for sure. Do you still have Wicca as a part of your practice, or have you branched out differently since the 90s?


It definitely buried itself into my bones one way or another. I think everyone has this sort of thing innate in their own ways, the thing that you end up working on is… How your soul decides to resonate with it. Sound waves and frequencies exist without telephones and computers, but having those devices allows you to almost personalize and amplify what is wholly yours, you know?


For instance, to answer your question regarding Wicca-No, I don’t follow any sort of Wiccan path anymore. It was once the only path available to me, but being able to branch out (no pun intended) and engage with deities or the metaphysical on my own has allowed me to really understand the ground I’ve decided to walk on.


Wicca is an initiatory religion, much in the same way Catholicism or Christianity is, and requires studies and practice under a tutor that I never really found-Though I did almost join a coven with someone who has since renounced any sort of religion or spiritually (a trend that sometimes happens, at least I’ve encountered it a bit in my experiences, especially with Wicca). I found the conformity of Wicca to be a little...Incompatible with what ended up being my wavelength.


I respect and admire anyone who finds their home in organized religion, but I always think of my mother’s phrase of “I’m not religious, but I do have faith.”


I’m similar. I don’t follow any path because I find that no terms out there seem to fit the way that I practice. If I had to, I’d tuck it under the eclectic witchcraft umbrella but even then, I don’t resonate with the word ‘witch’ personally.


It definitely seems like the way to go. Faith is such a personal thing that to get the most out of, I feel like you have to discover yourself in it. Drinking from the community fountain is all well and good but you sometimes have to pour yourself a helping and drink from your own glass, you know? It’s always interesting to me to see the different way people give meanings to their labels they do and don’t choose!


Oh, very much so! I agree entirely. Do you think you have similar thoughts about the term ‘witch’ because of your spiritwork? Could you talk a little about that?


Words and labels do have power, and when we first choose them, they echo a connotation and energy. For a lot of people, the mystery and {wiggles fingers} magic (for lack of a better word) that ‘witch’ has is this enigmatic, fierce little feeling. It’s the wise women, the energy workers, the outcasts and the like.


When I choose to use an identifier, I look into the community associated with it, the things someone who won’t go farther than the tip of the iceberg might see, and then follow it down to see what other things someone might be exposed to if they’re following me down.


I see if it fits, if the energy is consistent, and if I like it I take it. I did this with my name and I did this with both my sexuality and my gender identity and it hasn’t failed me yet.


That makes a lot of sense, really! Community - and feeling included in it - is one of the most important things about having a label for who you are - which is of course not necessary, but can be nice.


I agree!


One of the main things I discovered recently that I enjoy about any sort of community bond is that you get to “choose yourself” in a sense. Choosing to accept yourself and the things that make you you comes along with that, and can be echoed in connecting to others in a community.


‘Witch’ is basically the catch-all term for me when I don’t want to or am not invited to go into the nuance of whatever it is I do metaphysically/independently. I suppose I could say “Metaphysical Practitioner” but that involves saying I have a practice, and while I arguably do, I want to do so much more with it that I hesitate to say that.


I work with gods, I tap into a lot of deity work and deal with “higher beings” that aren’t always human, and at times I attract and prefer them. To me, phoning a friend could mean hopping onto Discord or staring at the ceiling and saying “Hey! How are you up there? Wanna watch something?” I have an altar, I light candles and incense, I occasionally yell at the sky. I’m willing to tango with things I can’t see with my eyes but can feel otherwise. It’s no different to me than any other part of my life, even if sometimes it can sound a little Out There. It’s as normal to me as breathing, even if there are times I find myself catching my breath with it.


‘Witch’ fits, and if it conjures up the idea of me riding a broom-hey, maybe that’ll get me out of answering why I don’t drive a car yet! Just don’t ask what’s in the cauldron-I’m working on it.


Fascinating as always! Thank you.


I’d like to talk a little about your divination. What first interested you in reading tarot?


Again, as much as teenage-me would loathe to admit it, I owe it to my mother. At first, it was a bonding thing. It was fascinating to me that I could understand a bit more of the things that eluded me. I remember pouring over The Only Astrology Book You Ever Need-My mother was very into astrology as well. Looking at the descriptions of The High Priestess and the minor arcana, into sun/moon/rising signs-it felt like there was a window into the facets of society I didn’t yet understand (You know, because six year olds should completely understand the world at large).


You started when you were six?! Mad props.


Less a start and more “HEY MOM PAY ATTENTION TO ME”. We didn’t get a cat until I was older, so it was up to me to be the familiar that messed up the secret-witchy readings! Some kids asked why the sky was blue, I asked ‘Hey, what does the blue naked lady have to do with the issue you’re worried about?’


It was almost like...There was this guiding sort of voice from the cards, this feeling of “Here’s what this means for you or for whoever this is”. I also took to story-telling and writing at a young age so this clicked right into my wheelhouse naturally, and daydreaming of the worlds of every card as a way to connect with the world I didn’t quite understand yet just wove itself together into this tapestry of curiosity and belonging. It felt like home. It was a language I understood.


How do you apply tarot in your personal practice?


It’s my IT Department LMAO. I started officially reading on my own/for people around me when I was around fourteen or so years old. I bought my first tarot-related deck The Archeon Tarot by Timothy Lantz after scoring the only copy in a metaphysical shop my family had been going to ever since I was little.


Do you have the same problem I have with collecting decks because you can?


Oh 100%. Nine times out of ten I become the friend who you go to when you’re looking to get into tarot because chances are I bought a deck without knowing Why I Did and it’s because You Mesh With This Deck And It Needs A Home. I don’t fully ascribe to the rule of “Your first deck has to be gifted to you” regardless of the fact that mine was, I just like having excuses to spoil people and getting decks can be expensive especially when you’re first starting out!


They really can be expensive, that’s part of the reason I was inspired to make my print-and-play decks more affordable.


We definitely need that accessibility in the world! I understand artists put so much love and labor into the printing and design, but in order to learn, practice, and even approach tarot, you shouldn’t have to shell out almost $40-60 dollars minimum just to look “official”.


Very much so. While creators and designers and super pretty decks are by no means a bad thing, and people can really pour their heart and soul into them, there is a gap in the market for “baby’s first deck” as it were.


Absolutely. Besides, half the best divination comes from things you can sink your hands into. Until you can get the funds or whatever for your aesthetic, there’s no harm in practicing and learning what you might connect with while you’re going about it. I usually try to keep people who are interested from immediately buying the Rider-Smith tarot that everyone and their grandmother has seen around, not because I have anything personal against it but I’ve seen new readers get easily discouraged right out of the gate because they don’t mesh with the imagery or the definitions. Part of what makes tarot beautiful to me is the diversity in the way you can symbolize different aspects. Every deck has a personality, a vibe, a collection of art between the tarot reader and the creator.


I also have nothing against the Rider-Waite but for some reason, decks which heavily reference it’s imagery are sometimes the hardest ones for me to read. I think you’ll agree that certain motifs work best for different people.


Absolutely! That’s what I’m talking about!


For instance, with my first deck. I loved how the mixed photography aspect of it jived with my Introduction Into Photography classes. From there, Tarot just became my “One Good Party Trick” where even if I couldn’t cast a spell or dredge up personal power for whatever I faced, I could always drag my deck out. To the point where my default deck now has a personality, a voice, even an image/appearance that pops up in my head. It was and still continues to be the safety net I can engage in to attend anyone who wants to dip their toes past the veil, so to speak. No matter if you’re a skeptic, a baby witchling, or someone who is just curious, tarot allows you to tap in without signing up for a subscription and engage with yourself in a higher frequency sort of way.


How do your decks vary in personality and function? Do you find one deck works for problem x, and one for problem y, etc?


I have found that my default deck is a nosy bastard who, like my dog, will drag me halfway out of my way to sniff people’s butts and then scamper away leaving me to be social.


I do have some oracle decks I bought that had the vibe or iconography of deities I work with, like the Kuan Yin Oracle. I find that oracle decks tend to have long descriptions for every card unlike tarot decks so I usually keep oracle decks around for the “One Draw” sort of reading or cross-read with my default deck in case I need to translate it for myself. I myself don’t read with anything but my default deck but I really should give my oracles a bit of love, they’re really useful if someone wants a reading and might be apprehensive of tarot as a concept or if someone wants something worded in a different way than my deck might present it. Most of my oracles are very reserved and generally like helpful guides. And then there’s my tarot deck...A nosy but helpful little butt who enjoys providing insight and “Calling You Out” as my friends refer to it.


...yep. Yep, I have decks who are definitely little shits in that sort of way.


Absolutely perfect little dears for when you’re just looking to exist in a corner, aren’t they? You’re hearing somebody lament something at a party or during your day and suddenly it’s “...Oh, I could read for that.”


What drove you to turn your tarot-reading into a business? You mention that you read for yourself and friends, but what inspired you to extend that and branch out?


I loved how it connected me with people. My friends honestly urged me that I could charge, that I should charge, for what insight and help I gave them. I also quickly became dissatisfied with the cartomancy scene, having gone to shops in Salem and into other reader’s houses and...Honestly? I hadn’t had a reading from someone I had paid to do it that hadn’t left me crying by the time I got out of it. In a bad, unknowingly weird kind of way.


I think, looking back on it, it was because the more I personally learned about the cards and my own style of reading, the more I realized the people I was visiting and paying for...Weren’t reading them?

I have to preface this, I have nothing against psychics who sell their talents. I have nothing against readers who absolutely can pick up on things they shouldn’t know or feel the need to share information like ‘Hey, I don’t know how to tell you this but something funky will go down around this time’. But the more I think of it, the more memories I have of someone telling me ‘Oh! Right as you get out of college you’re going to get married! I see a red-haired baby in your future, years down the line! I also see some...Money problems too.’ Or my favorite drinking game, take a shot every time someone calls me ‘Purple-hued’, ‘an Indigo Child’, or ‘A wise old soul in a young body’. Like, ma’am, I’m 12 and have depression/problems at home, I don’t need a reading for that. Next.


Definitely. I like to find - and tend to return to - readers who aren’t scared to tell me that The Tower has come up when I ask them about my love life (not that I talk much about my love life, but you get the idea). I trust people who value what you need to hear vs. what they think you want to hear.


I agree! I was wholly unsatisfied with the scene especially in the regard of just playing along with this theatrical song-and-dance. I wanted tarot reading and the engagement of it to be accessible and demystified a bit. You don’t need to be a high priestess or even witchy-aligned at all to read tarot. It’s a wonderful tool for insight that opens up the conversation for individuals to explore at times very deep and vulnerable things. It’s not free therapy or a substitution for it by any means but it really is something that speaks to the human nature that exists in the divine, and vice versa. It’s a bridge, and at the end of the day, it’s also a good time.


I honestly only wanted to make a business out of it because it’s a talent I’ve devoted love to, and if at the end of the day you end up a few bucks shorter with me, I want to give you something valuable to take with you in return.


And I’m glad! I know you have a lot of passion to share, so I really hope it takes off flying.


I’m definitely inspired by those I see like you pursuing their passion in it as well, and I want to do justice to that so here’s to trying!


Out of interest, where did the name Lorelei’s Lock come from?

Hey readers, take another shot every time I mention my mother. She must be tapping me for some reason, it’s her interview now, folks.


[refills my glass]


Cheers!

So, for those playing at home, my mom passed away when I was 19. Obviously, that changes our relationship a bit but being witchy/metaphysical and aware of her (whether I want to be or not) allowed me to appreciate things I had definitely taken for granted, such as her influence. In the golden days of AOL Instant Messenger, my mom went by LoreleiMoon. She was a Cancer, and thus moon imagery was everywhere for her. When I dreamt of the idea for a shop, I wanted to create a nod to her somehow, and thought of all the funky monikers she went by growing up. Lorelei was one of them, and I always wondered why she chose it. A few google searches later and I learned the meaning was in part wound around a poem about a woman who is accused of bewitching men and luring them to their deaths. A siren, in other variations.


A good song inspired by the story is Loreley by Blackmore’s Night. Definitely worth a listen, though I know I’ve shared it with you before, Willow.


It’s a gorgeous song, and I honestly wonder if my mom had listened to it ever. I feel like I would have known but in general, Blackmore’s Night is a band I know she would have happily danced to.


It’s inspired by a high, steep rock gathering somewhere in Germany whose name means “murmuring rock”. Now we don’t have time to unpack all of that and why my mom chose it. But the Lock part followed with the idea that when I read, I don’t hold the key to anything the reader doesn’t already possess. I’m not this wise, all-knowing elder figure. I’m a person, with a deck of cards, prattling on about what I think they mean. It’s the reader who holds the key to their own fates, their own futures. Hence, I’m the lock. Seemed fitting enough imagery for the most part!


Nicely poetic! I’m sure your mum would be touched, too. And what kind of services do you offer, just to get a little advertising in here for you?


In terms of my services, I mainly read tarot and oracle! I specialized in the standard fare of single card,three card, and Celtic Cross readings. My prices range from $10-40 for them depending on what you choose, additional cards pulled for clarity are $1 each, and I can do custom readings for a range of prices as well as Year Ahead readings as well. Those are typically my most expensive just because they’re the largest reading to do! The readings take anywhere from around 15 minutes to an hour, with the exception of the Year Ahead being an hour and a half. I take bookings through my Facebook Page which also has my email, and I’d have you fill out a booking form first before we talk shop via email correspondence!


I ask for payment about 24 hours in advance prior to the reading, I’m willing to discuss things like a sliding scale especially given the economy right now, and I’m always willing to open the discussion to feedback and understanding how best I can take care of you. This is my first foray into this, and while I am confident enough in my abilities as a reader, I also want to do justice to the economical side of things. If ever you want to encourage your audience to check me out, I do a card a day and daily analysis on my Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram! Right now, my hours are a little in the works because I’m going to be juggling a full-time mundane job, but I encourage anyone to reach out to me through the shop’s social handles and don’t shy away from starting a conversation!


I enjoy seeing your daily analysis on Facebook! Highly recommend following Willow.


You can’t see it but I’m all blush. To any newcomers who come along for the ride, I absolutely value feedback and love the chance to know how I can better engage with you and deliver whatever message can help you get through the day!


And do you feel reading for strangers differs from reading for people that you know?


This is going to sound funny, but sometimes I wish I read for strangers more. That’s the goal for sure, but with my friends it’s very easy to hone in on “Hey, I know you personally and I can tell what this is about”. There is a little bit of bias in there whether I want there to be or not. But, it also helps to know and be mindful of how I deliver the message, because my deck very much matches the energy of whoever is being read. If you’re hard on yourself, it’s gonna scare you a bit and sound mean back. Not to rile you but to sort of echo back “This is how you speak to yourself, this is the way you get this message. If you don’t like it, you need to change the way you communicate with yourself. Why aren’t you being a bit kinder to yourself right now?” My default deck is very much no-nonsense like that, and oftentimes reading for strangers allows me that veil of “You don’t know who I am, I don’t know who you are, but I can tell already you want things to be different otherwise you wouldn’t be here trusting me with this, would you?”


Makes perfect sense to me, thanks for satisfying my curiosity.


Always my pleasure!


To finish this interview off, do you have any advice that you would give to people looking to start studying tarot (or divination or cartomancy) for the first time?


They’re just cards, dear. They’re made by the same folks who publish poker decks. They aren’t gateways to hell or anything you need to be the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son Born On A Full Blue Moon to tap into. They are as meaningful and as engaging as you want them to be, and if you just want to have fun, enjoy pretty art, and have coffee-date-thoughtful kinds of insights, go forth and be merry. First and foremost, you’re gonna be in a room in your head by yourself, so get comfortable with learning the language of how your mind interprets things. If you approach an answer with worry and fear, you might find the only thing the cards are doing is reflecting that. It’s as much a self-engaging exercise as is it a window into others. That’s basically the personal golden rule I have about anything metaphysical, but with tarot especially, you’re telling a story so be mindful and choosy. Have fun, be safe, and enjoy the ride! Gather as much research as will spur your curiosity into genuine interest, and don’t be afraid to learn other ways of reading. Hell, some of the best divination I’ve ever gotten hasn’t even been from anything other than “I’m bored, let’s bother my deck”. Gosh, there’s so much I could say but I’ve taken a lot of time and I basically want you, the newcomers, to know I support you, I cheer you, and I know there’s a whole developing community here waiting to welcome you home.

Willow is a long-practiced tarot reader and witch. They are always looking for more ways to engage in the metaphysical community especially through the lens of exploration and self-acceptance. They began Lorelei’s Lock as a labor of love to give that back to those who seek to explore their own selves in the safe introspective dialogue that tarot and spirituality invites-whether customers ascribe to any faith or not. You can find Lorelei’s Lock through their Facebook Page, Tumblr, and Instagram.
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